Innovative Alternative Energy Harvesting Methods for Future Sustainability

Exploring Simple Alternative Energy Harvesting methods that can be combined in the near future to reduce corporate costs and minimize carbon footprint.

It is no secret that we are in an energy crunch. Experts say if we don’t get a handle on this or at least start relying on more than fifty-percent renewable energy by 2030 we may face harsh outcomes. In addition, the pollution caused by non-renewable sources can have devastating affects if not remedied as well.

Growing up we were taught that often the solutions to some of the most difficult problems lay hidden in plain sight right below our noses. Modern researchers are starting to look outside the box to explore innovative options for alternative energy harvesting.

An article written by Darshil Patel uncovered three current methods being researched by universities to harvest energy utilizing wearable technology.

The methods consist of: 1. a stretchable battery powered by human sweat. 2. A self-powered thin transparent pressure sensor applied to the skin for harvesting Piezoelectric energy for bio signal monitoring. 3. A glass substrate consisting of eloctrochromic display and NFC power management chip that can harvest energy from low ambient light and electromagnetic radiation.

Energy Harvesting on a Glass Substrate

Another team of researchers from RISE Research Institutes of Sweden AB (RISE) reported the development of a battery-less electronic circuit printed on a glass substrate. Organic-based materials have gained much popularity in 3D-printed electronics because they can be easily fabricated on flexible surfaces.

However, these materials are sensitive to their surroundings. Organic materials can degrade with fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Therefore, they added the electronic components on glass by the pick-and-place assembly.

The system the team developed is comprised of several elements:

A sensor capable of detecting water

An electrochromic display


A power management chip managing the power supply through energy harvesting of electromagnetic radiation

A microcontroller responsible for monitoring the sensor status

Importantly, the power management chip manages the power supply by the energy harvesting of electromagnetic radiation.

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In another article released by ScienceDaily, deeper research reveals advanced methods for havesting energy from radio waves or electromagnetic radiation.

From microwave ovens to Wi-Fi connections, the radio waves that permeate the environment are not just signals of energy consumed but are also sources of energy themselves. An international team of researchers, led by Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Professor in the Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, has developed a way to harvest energy from radio waves to power wearable devices.

The researchers recently published their method in Materials Today Physics.

According to Cheng, current energy sources for wearable health-monitoring devices have their place in powering sensor devices, but each has its setbacks. Solar power, for example, can only harvest energy when exposed to the sun. A self-powered triboelectric device can only harvest energy when the body is in motion.

“We don’t want to replace any of these current power sources,” Cheng said. “We are trying to provide additional, consistent energy.”

The researchers developed a stretchable wideband dipole antenna system capable of wirelessly transmitting data that is collected from health-monitoring sensors. The system consists of two stretchable metal antennas integrated onto conductive graphene material with a metal coating. The wideband design of the system allows it to retain its frequency functions even when stretched, bent and twisted. This system is then connected to a stretchable rectifying circuit, creating a rectified antenna, or “rectenna,” capable of converting energy from electromagnetic waves into electricity. This electricity that can be used to power wireless devices or to charge energy storage devices, such as batteries and supercapacitors.

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The implications of this research can be a vast revolutionary breakthrough across many disciplines. Some experts say we are still not a type 1 civilization because we still haven’t mastered an energy system that isn’t based on finite external supply sources.

The very nature of this presents a threat to human survival and evolutionary growth. The use of energy harvesting radio waves may be a novel concept meriting deeper investigation because these electromagnetic radiation waves are all around us and if we can begin to tap into this energy we can began to have a circular regenerative energy recycling method that may even serve affective in minimizing our carbon footprint.

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  1. Darshil Patel.; Alternative Energy Harvesting Techniques Emerge for Sensor Networks. May 14, 2022.
  2. RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Digital Systems, Smart Hardware, Printed, Bio- and Organic Electronics, Bredgatan 33, Box 787, SE-60117 Norrköping, Sweden2J2 Holding AB, Sjögestad Rosendal, SE-58392 Vikingstad, Sweden3RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Built Environment, Building and Real Estate, Glass, Vejdes Plats 3, SE-35252 Växjö, Sweden
  3. Jia Zhu, Zhihui Hu, Chaoyun Song, Ning Yi, Zhaozheng Yu, Zhendong Liu, Shangbin Liu, Mengjun Wang, Michael Gregory Dexheimer, Jian Yang, Huanyu Cheng. Stretchable wideband dipole antennas and rectennas for RF energy harvesting. Materials Today Physics, 2021; 18: 100377 DOI: 10.1016/j.mtphys.2021.100377
  4. Penn State. “Researchers harvest energy from radio waves to power wearable devices.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2021. <>